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Slim down for spring break

There are approximately five weeks until spring break. This means five weeks to lose those extra pounds, put on some muscle and do whatever you need to do to get yourself in swimsuit shape. However, there are excuses for not exercising: the USF gym is too crowded; you don’t like cardio workouts; you’re intimidated by the grunting people in the weight room; you work all day. I’ve heard all these excuses. And I have made all these excuses myself.

Luckily, I have a solution. This is the no-excuses, five-week swimsuit plan, beginning today and ending March 14, at the beginning of spring break. The program is comprised of three parts.

First is nutrition. I have based the nutrition portion of this plan on The South Beach Diet. The diet suggests a healthy blend of carbs, protein and fat. However, for a quick jump start, it recommends two weeks of reduced-carb eating. On the third week, you begin adding healthy carbohydrates. I have provided a skeleton food list for each week of the program. For more information and recipes, check out

The second part of the plan is cardiovascular exercise. New government regulations for health and nutrition recommend 60-90 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity at least three times a week to maintain a healthy weight. Under cardio, you will see six numbers in parentheses. Do the prescribed number of minutes on whatever day you choose. If you are already in good shape and wish to lose weight, you can increase the impact of this workout by selecting running as your cardiovascular workout or adding a second cardio workout (30-45 minutes) to your day.

The third part of this program is strength training. Since going to the gym can sometimes be inconvenient, I have outlined this workout from Stewart Smith’s Navy Seal Workout Program. It is provided only as a guideline. If you feel stronger, replace modified (on your knees) push-ups with regular ones. If you do prefer working out in the gym, do that instead. Do not skip strength workouts. Adding muscle will increase your metabolism, which will help you maintain your fat loss. Perform your strength training workout 2-4 times per week.